“I leave message after message and no one ever calls me back!” Sound familiar? Voicemails are great, but not so much when “chasing” slow payers. This will help.
GET VOICEMAIL BASICS RIGHT
1 Keep it short. 10 – 20 seconds maximum.
2 Never use the word JUST. Get right in to your message
3 Leave your name and number at the beginning and at the end. (Debtors are very unlikely to have a pen sitting in their hand. Instead, their finger is probably sitting on that delete button.)
4 Use their first name in the call, twice. (People like to hear their first name.)
5 Explain what you want them to do at the beginning of the call. (As journalists always lead out with a headline.)
6 Speak slowly and clearly – especially when leaving your number. (Don’t mumble – really concentrate on talking slowly.)
MAKE IT VERY EASY FOR THEM TO CALL YOU BACK
* Leave the voicemail from the number you want to be reached at. (so they can just press a number to return your call)
* Never ever threaten anything – you can’t be sure who will listen to your message and the purpose of your call is only to get them to respond. (you should only write any bad news.)
* Sound friendly. (if YOU can’t do so, get someone else to leave the message for you.)
PLAN IN ADVANCE
* Write out what you want to say.
* Highlight the main points.
* Practice it.
* Decide when to call. Best times? Before lunch or late in the afternoon.
* Create templates and leave them near your phone for future calls.
* Offer two options and give an unusual but specific deadline. Eg: “Please either call or message me back by two o’clock on Friday”.
* Blame someone/thing else for having to call. Eg: “I’m doing a report for the Board on Thursday and would appreciate your input”.
* Send an email to say that you’ve left a voice message.
* Record your message as you leave it and send it as an attachment to an email.
* Explain why you’re calling, not writing. Eg: “I’ve sent a few emails but we haven’t been able to touch base with each other yet”.
* Leave two voicemail messages, no more. Any more is simply a waste of time.
* “Accidentally” cut off your message. “Hi, it’s John Smith from Matthews and Co. My number is *** and I have your…” and the message goes dead. This technique engages both curiosity and the recipient’s humanity; they want to call back to help you get the rest of your message across.
* Leave a message saying “Please disregard my last message” without actually leaving a prior message. People respond pretty quickly to ask about that last message.
* Leave an unknown name, an unknown number and a vague, almost meaningless, message.
IN THE LAST RESORT
* Call someone else, someone who has nothing to do with the account, on purpose.
Eg: “Oh I’m sorry. I wanted to speak to Fred Bloggs. May I leave a message for him with you?”
And then go the two extra steps mentioned here.
* Leave a message saying,
– “I’ve been trying to reach you for the past couple of months – are you still with the company?” or
– “Are you still in business?” or
– “Is your voicemail system working?”
Sometimes, not always, this can act as an intervention to the recipient’s insensitivity, as they realise they’ve left calls unanswered for too long.
* “I’ve given your details to Nicole at Jones Lawyers and she’ll contact you shortly”.
* “I’ll drop by your office later this week to catch up”. (If this is practical and they’re within a reasonable driving distance for you)